My name is Lauren and I have been a sole support, sole custody mother for almost thirteen years. I have two boys, age thirteen, and no, they are not twins. They are nine months apart and I became a single mother when they were seven months old and sixteen months old. I never dreamed that my boys would have a deadbeat father and that I would be raising fatherless kids.
I still to this day can hear my oldest son, who I picked up at preschool when he was four years old, sobbing uncontrollably on Fathers day because he did not have a father to give his handmade gift to, but yet all the other kids that he knew had dads. Every year I dreaded Fathers day. I know it would not be fair to the children who have dads to not be able to celebrate by making gifts in school, but frankly the two or three days it took to complete their gifts must have been very sad for my sons.
It has gotten easier over the years, and now my sons and I can actually laugh about this sad subject, although there were some rough patches that had to be dealt with before there could get to the place they are now. The Do’s and Dont’s of Raising Fatherless Kids:
- DON’T put down your children’s father. No matter what sort of ill feelings you harbor towards the father of your children, I cannot stress enough how important it is to their welfare, that you do not speak badly about their father. He is not there to be “hurt” by your words but your children are. It affects their self esteem and causes undo stress when their own flesh and blood father is such a “horrible guy”. It amazes me to have a mother tell me she loves her children so much and then hear her turn around and talk badly about him to her children.
- DON’T burden them with your financial concerns. Telling your children that you are having problems paying bills or making the house payment because their father doesn’t pay you child support only makes them feel insecure. Children internalize their exaggerate their worries. They know nothing of about financial matters. Would you want them thinking that they may end up having no home to live in?
- DON’T keep bringing up his name. If he isn’t in your lives then why talk about him and dwell on the “what if or “if only?” Build a bridge and get over it. Move on with your life.
- DON’T act helpless without a man around. You are already showing how strong you are by being a sole custody mom. You want you boys to end up marrying a strong woman. Remember boys tend to marry women like their mothers. You don’t want your daughters to end up thinking they need a man around all the time to help them.
- DON’T put the male sex down. Remember, you are raising “little men”. Putting men down puts your sons down. You also don’t want your daughters to dislike men before they even get a chance to know any! There are a lot of great guys out there!
- DON’T have a date pick you up at your house. Until you are in an established relationship it is best to keep your personal dating life separate from your “mother” life.
- DON’T incorporate and involve your new boyfriend into the lives of your children. I had one friend who within a week of meeting of meeting a “new guy” she would have him at her house helping her kids with their homework! Since my sons don’t even have a weekend dad I did not want them getting attached to, what in their minds could be a future father, and then having the man gone from their lives if things do not work out.
- DON’T have boyfriends spend the night. It may be difficult to have overnight alone time with the man in your life but “oh well” that is just the way it is.
- Do say “I love you” every single day. It is very important that your children know that no matter what they do wrong they are love unconditionally.
- Do tell your children that their father loves them but has chosen not to be a part of “our” lives. This advice was given to me by a family therapist when my children were very young. Later on your children will ask more questions when given this answer, and at that time you can tell them what you think is an age appropriate answer.
- Do show them pictures of their father when they ask. My oldest son asked to see a picture of his dad when he was about six. I brought out the photo album and after looking at two or three pages he told me that he wanted to go back to watching cartoons.
- Do tell them that anyone can father a child but it takes a special person to be a Dad. Let them know that their father just isn’t cut out to be a good parent and that it has nothing to do with them. Let them know that their father loves them but just isn’t cut out to be a dad. You don’t need to make him sound like a saint either.
- Do tell them how proud you are of them. Nothing will make a child shine more than being told that they have make you proud.
- Do discipline your children. Be consistent with discipline. Say what you mean and do what you say. So many single parents tend to feel guilty regarding their children having an absentee parent that they don’t discipline well enough. It is a proven fact that well disciplined children do better in school and in life. Remember discipline is love.
I was born and raised in Southern California into what I would describe as a “Ozzie and Harriett” kind of a family. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I could really appreciate how fortunate I was to grow up with both a mom and dad living under the same roof. The same can also be said all of our other family members. I know that is one reason why I have felt guilty, although I know that my children’s father’s absence is not my fault, that my sons were cheated out of having what I had. I had a wonderful father and I am thankful he was so devoted to his family.
All you can do as a parent is your best. Make wise choices. Sometimes it can be difficult to put your childrens welfare constantly ahead of yours especially if you are feeling lonely or during times of stress, but in the long run it will be well worth it. They grow up so fast. Make this one and only chance count. There are no “repeats” when it comes to parenting. Single parenting is not easy. Either is dual parenting. You are not perfect and you will make mistakes. fatherless children can grow up happy and feeling secure even if they only have one parent. Their deadbeat fathers [http://www.squidoo.com/Raising-Sons-Without-a-Man-Around] are missing so much. You are not perfect. The fact is you have to forgive yourself any mistakes…The most important thing to remember…
LIFE ISN’T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS…IT’S LEARNING HOW TO DANCE IN THE RAIN!